Israel’s parliament speaker has scheduled a vote for Sunday on a new government that would end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule, the longest in the country’s history.
Parliament Speaker Yariv Levin, an ally of Netanyahu, announced the timing of the vote on Tuesday, a day after acknowledging that a coalition had been formed.
The fragile coalition consists of eight parties that span Israel’s political spectrum, with only a narrow majority in the 120-member Knesset or parliament. But it appears to have stuck together despite a furious campaign by Netanyahu’s supporters, which has included death threats and protests outside the homes of lawmakers.
Netanyahu has accused his former right-wing allies of treason for being allies with leftists and a small Arab party he had also courted.
Naftali Bennett, an ultra-nationalist former Netanyahu ally, would serve as prime minister for two years, followed by centrist Yair Lapid, the driving force behind the coalition, who thanked the speaker for planning the vote.
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“The unity government is underway and ready to work on behalf of the entire people of Israel,” Lapid said.
Israel held four elections in less than two years, the most recent in March.
Each time, voters have been deeply polarized over whether Netanyahu should remain in office while facing corruption charges, for which he is now on trial. An emergency government formed last year to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was embroiled in political infighting and collapsed in December. Netanyahu tried and failed to form a government after the March elections before the mandate was given to Lapid.
The political transition, which could yet derail, comes amid heightened tensions after weeks of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Jerusalem, which sparked a wave of ethnic violence in Israeli cities and sparked an 11-day Gaza war.